Jerry Paper - Free Time [2022 TRI-COLOR VINYL] - New LP
Free Time Review by Paul Simpson: Jerry Paper's first two albums for Stones Throw were a refinement of the sound and persona that the enigmatic artist born Lucas Nathan had been developing since the early 2010s, as they evolved from a somewhat ironic lo-fi pop project to a more accomplished performer and songwriter.
Free Time finds them letting loose and experimenting more than on their previous few albums, tackling a wider range of genres while addressing more personal subject matter. The album appeared shortly after Nathan came out as nonbinary, and the songs reflect their journey as well as the joy and liberation of being one's true self. "Kno Me," the Elvis Costello-esque rocker that opens the album, was directly inspired by the first time Nathan decided to wear a dress in public. After realizing that most people didn't react one way or another, they found freedom in not caring what anyone else thinks about them. With that in mind, Nathan seems unconcerned with sticking to one cohesive sound on Free Time, and its songs are unified more by energy or spirit than style. "Just Say Play" feels closer to the smooth, bubbly synth funk of previous Jerry Paper releases, while "Shaking Ass" goes more in a soft, samba-influenced direction. "Myopitopia" keeps a bit of this mellow mood, but is mainly constructed from clanky, robotic synths, recalling early electronic pop experiments from the 1960s up to the '80s cassette culture era. The slow, bashful "Duumb" is a reflection on self-doubt, and its bridge is inexplicably filled with a rhythmic collage of cartoonish sound effects, shouts, and ethereal vocals. "DREEMSCENES" is a funky house jam, with vocoders, scratchy guitars, and bopping saxophone all set to a steadily ticking beat and lush synth pads. Like much of the album, it's a little messy, but Nathan seems more confident to plunge into new territory and embrace different sounds than ever, making this one of their most ambitious, free-spirited releases.